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CTA remembers 50th anniversary of March on Washington

This is an inspiring week for our country as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 where, in front of more than 200,000 people, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial. It was truly a teachable moment that changed the nation.

CTA has joined labor and civil rights groups in the national remembrance. As part of our efforts to honor this special day, Wednesday, Aug. 28, CTA has partnered with the Oakland-based Equal Justice Society to promote free lesson plans for educators about milestones in civil rights. You can include these history-rich moments in the civil rights movement to help students comprehend what was at stake, and why the struggles against racism still matter. The EJS also works to combat implicit bias from racial and gender stereotypes that CTA also reveals and dispels in our training about overcoming unconscious bias.

CTA put a call out to members asking for any personal stories or experiences related to the historic events. Hear from three members about their experiences:


Harriet Hutchinson is a retired kindergarten teacher from Oakland who remembers the March on Washington and the impact of being there that day has had on her life.


Judy Collier is a retired teacher from the West Contra Costa Unified School District who remembers the march very well since she attended as a 23-year-old. To this day, she gives civil rights talks to kids about that historic day. Judy has shared some amazing pictures she took that day.


Margaret Browne is also retired from West Contra Costa Unified and recalls the impacts on her from hearing Dr. King’s “Dream” speech, and how that peaceful day in Washington gave her some hope about race relations in the nation.

Oakland Unified School District teacher Rosenda Thomas will be attending a special Aug. 28 Equal Justice Society theater event honoring civil rights pioneers and the march itself of Aug. 28, 1963. She grew up in the civil rights movement. She is past chair of the CTA Black Caucus, and current national vice chair of the National Education Association’s Black Caucus. As a little girl in the 1960s, Thomas was living in Berkeley and attending an integrated public school. She recalls the jarring visit to see an aunt in segregated Louisiana when she went to drink from a public water fountain.

Read more about Rosenda's experience in CTA's news release where you will also find information about statewide activities that began this past weekend. "This is a time of reflection on how much has been gained and how much work still needs to be done," said CTA President Dean E. Vogel. "CTA joins the entire labor family and all California families in honoring the meaning of that historic march and its legacy for all of us. Our union’s 150 years of advocacy for students has often meant fighting for justice, fairness and the respect that all people deserve.

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